SocketTools provides both 32-bit and 64-bit components and libraries for the Windows platform. Although most applications today continue to be 32-bit, there is no question that 64-bit platforms are growing along with demand for native 64-bit applications. It’s estimated that over 50% of the Windows 8.1 installations are the 64-bit version, and virtually all desktop and laptop PCs sold in the past 8 years have 64-bit processors.
Originally we had planned to release each of the SocketTools editions in two different versions, one 32-bit and one for 64-bit development. Based on feedback from our customers and the recognition that 64-bit development is in a transition period, we’ve decided to include both 32-bit and 64-bit components in the same product. You will be able to choose the versions that you want to install, with the defaults selected based on the system that you’re installing SocketTools on.
For those who are upgrading from earlier versions of the SocketTools .NET Edition and the SocketTools ActiveX Edition, there will be virtually no coding changes required; the components will work in the same way, regardless of which version is being used. Because they have a higher-level interface, you don’t need to worry about the core changes that were made to support 64-bit platforms. With .NET development, you’ll be able to build applications that explicitly target either the x86 or x64 platforms, or both. The most significant changes you’ll probably need to make are with how your installer deploys your application, since it will need to be aware of whether or not the installation is being performed on a 32-bit or 64-bit system.
For developers who are upgrading from earlier versions of the SocketTools Library Edition, there will be more significant changes because of the lower-level interface presented by the SocketTools API. In particular, the size of pointers and handles are different based on whether you’re building your application for 32-bit or 64-bit systems. The signatures for some of the SocketTools functions have changed to accommodate this, and it may require that you modify your code. This is really a general programming issue, so it’s not something unique to SocketTools, but it is something to be aware of if you’re planning to port your software to 64-bit Windows.
By including both 32-bit and 64-bit components in each of the SocketTools editions, you’ll have the best of both worlds. You can continue to develop and maintain your existing 32-bit software, while planning your transition to native 64-bit support that is clearly the future direction for the Windows platform.